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Maui family fosters 15 children, shedding light on National Foster Care Month

Originally story published by KITV on May 25th by Mika Miyashima, here.

Duane and Jonahlyn Pagay of Maui have fostered 15 children since 2015, adopted one, all while raising three keiki of their own.

Duane first entered the foster care system when he was in elementary school. He and his two brothers were just three of the more than 1,500 keiki in HawaiI who are unable to live with their own families for a variety of reasons.

“There’s substance abuse, there’s finances, there’s alcoholism,” explained Duane. “I just truly feel that no child needs to go through any of that.”

Duane reunited with his parents in middle school. That’s when life got rough.

He describes jumping out of a window to escape abuse, getting involved with drugs, serving prison time, and at one point even attempting to take his own life.

“I always wanted someone to save me. At the same time, I wish there was somebody that could help my parents,” said Duane.

That’s why Duane, his wife Jonahlyn, and their three kids, have made it their mission to foster other children in need.

“Some of these kids, they come back looking like how I felt,” explained Duane. “It’s very disturbing and really hurts me. But, lucky I have my wife and kids of our own. We do this all together.”

The Pagay’s 9-year-old daughter Jaida says it’s all about making the kids feel welcome in her home.

“I just tell them, you can take your time and stuff like that, you can get comfortable” she explained.

This past February, the Pagay’s adopted one of the 15 keiki they fostered.

“There’s a lot of kids out there that really needs foster care right now so you know, once one gets reunified, you don’t know that next week they could be calling you like hey, I have a placement,” explained Jonahlyn.

The Pagay’s message to others who are interested in fostering children but feel they don’t have the time or money for it, is that financial help is available.

“We don’t do any of this for the money, but the state does help. They do provide you with the room and board which is something that a lot of people don’t know about.”

May is “National Foster Care Month”. For more information, click here.